Meliora letters spelled out in front of Rush Rhees Library

Research & Innovation Grants (RIG)

RIGs and HRIGs (Humanities RIGs) provide research expenses of $3,500 for undergraduate students working with a faculty sponsor. Only students applying to the College are eligible for these grants. Eligible sponsors are faculty members holding any type of appointment (including clinical, emeritus, adjunct, research associate, instructor, etc.) in any part of the University.

Goals of RIG and HRIG

The goal of RIG and HRIG is to get you involved in experiential activities that:

  • Stimulate your mind.
  • Broaden your perspectives.
  • Expand your intellectual and social networking.
  • Strengthen your connections to the University community and the research and creative communities throughout the world.

Uses of RIG

Compensation for research

Students awarded a RIG who are appointed as Undergraduate Research Assistants are compensated at a to be determined hourly rate.

Equipment and materials associated with research

Students awarded a RIG who are hired for an unpaid and non-credit bearing internship or service learning position are compensated at an hourly rate. All service learning positions must be certified by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.

Travel in pursuit of fellowships

Students competing for fellowships and internships relating to their research can use their grant for domestic travel and lodging associated with the interview and hiring process for the position.

Human subjects

All research and creative activities at the University of Rochester are subject to federal and state laws and regulations. All research involving human subjects requires Institutional Review Board approval.

Conference travel

Students who attend professional conferences and presentations related to their proposed topic of study can use their grant for associated domestic travel and lodging costs.

Internships/service learning

Students awarded a RIG who are hired for an unpaid and non-credit bearing internship or service learning position are compensated at an hourly rate. All service learning positions must be certified by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.

Research experience abroad

Grants may be used for costs associated with research and experiential learning experiences outside the United States. Students participating in programs of study and research occurring during the academic year may use their grant for travel costs associated with their research. Students participating in programs of study and research occurring during the summer may use their grant for costs associated with travel and the pursuit of academic credit. University of Rochester students planning to study or do research abroad are advised to consult the University’s policies on travel to areas on the US State Department’s Travel Warning list.

Humanities RIG

The University received a 1-million-dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation for research in the humanities. Part of this grant is being used to intensify the Humanities Research and Innovation Grant (HRIG) Program, in which undergrads in the humanities design and lead their own research projects.

The HRIG program began with less than ten first years in the Class of 2020. The next year, the program tripled its enrollment and accepted around thirty first years.

This incredible opportunity matches students with faculty mentors, helps them identify their interests, teaches them how to propose and design an independent research project, and then finances that project to make it a reality. Programs like this make Rochester a truly powerful place, where even underclassmen can produce cutting-edge research.

Finding a Faculty Sponsor

All students begin the RIG process with their own research idea. In order to disburse the funding and begin their research, students work with a faculty sponsor. Many students will change or modify their original research proposal after close consultation with their sponsor.

You should not contact faculty directly until you are on campus and ready to begin your application for grant disbursement.


Explore the college website

Before submitting your preliminary application, you should look for faculty members you might like to collaborate with when you get to Rochester. You should not contact them directly in the preliminary phase. On your preliminary application, list names and current research projects of faculty you may like to work with to support your proposed work.


Make a list of possible faculty sponsors

If your preliminary application is accepted and you receive a grant, you should begin to narrow and refine your search for a faculty sponsor. A good starting place is faculty members whom you may know, for example, instructors that you have had for a class. You could also ask Teaching Assistants (TAs) that you have had for a class to recommend possible sponsors. If your academic advisor is a faculty member, you could put her or him on your list, or just ask your academic advisor for suggestions.

Finally, ask your friends for professors that they may know, either from a class or from some out-of-class experience, such as undergraduate research. Online, you can begin by searching the ILLIAD faculty interests database, the professors’ personal web pages (usually linked from the departmental web pages), and library online catalogs and databases. Your goal is to identify commonalities in your intellectual interests and to identify topics to discuss during your initial meeting.


Send emails

Make sure you know something about the research interests of each possible sponsor on your list. You can use departmental web pages to discover details about a sponsor’s research. Your email should:

  • Indicate that you were awarded a RIG, with a brief description of the grant requirements.
  • Describe your interest in the faculty member’s research.
  • Provide a brief description of who you are; for example, your major, your year in college and your strong points for doing research.
  • Ask for a specific time and place to meet to discuss research possibilities.


Meet your potential sponsor(s)

  • Begin by introducing yourself and your desire to work with them as a sponsor.
  • Make sure you know as much as you can about their work when you start the conversation.
  • Plan an agenda of questions you would like answered before you leave the meeting.

It is possible that the professor will be unable at the time to take on another student. Or you may decide that the professor is not the right intellectual fit for you. You should then ask for a reference to another faculty member with similar areas of interest whom you might approach. Be sure to send a thank-you note.


Get help

The RIG Coordinator is available to help connect you with a faculty sponsor.


Begin working with your faculty sponsor

Your relationship with your faculty sponsor may vary depending on how you will use your grant. Once the grant disbursement begins, you should meet regularly with your sponsor to discuss the progress of your work. Your sponsor will need to sign off on the successful completion of your research experience.

Meshrob Mashtots Innovation Grant

Beyond the normal RIG grants awarded, there are several prestigious grants given each year to students with unique potential for research and innovation. The most prestigious of these is the Mesrob Mashtots Innovation Grant. Initially awarded in 2010, this $5,000 grant, named after the Armenian linguist, theologian, and statesman, has been granted to students with a strong interest in the social sciences and humanities. Students who have expressed interest in the RIG program or have exhibited exceptional aptitude for the social sciences and humanities are invited to apply for the grant during the spring of their senior year. This award is sponsored by University Trustee Ani Gabrellian (’84) and her husband Mark Gabrellian (’79), distinguished alumni and sponsors of the arts and humanities at the University of Rochester.

Through this award, students are able to expand their opportunities for research, innovation, and exploration both on campus and around the globe. The Mesrob Mashtots award can be used in the same way as a normal research grant to explore and fund research expenses, travel abroad, conference costs, and opportunities for innovation, as demonstrated by the following recent recipients.


Meshrob Mashtots

Photo credit: Dillon Bowman, Class of 2015, a Mesrob Mashtots Innovation Grant recipient who used his award to travel abroad to Egypt and the Middle East to study Arabic


“I used my grant to attend a directing workshop at the Yale School of Drama and to cover expenses while I was working at the Williamstown Theatre Festival that same summer. That experience was an integral part of my decision to continue to work in theatre during my last year at Rochester and beyond.”

Kat McCorkle, international relations, Class of 2016


“Without the Mesrob Mashtots Grant, I would not have been able to intern in New York City. With the stress of paying rent out of the way, I was able to focus on my work as a Project Management Intern with the Michael Alan Group, an experiential marketing agency.”

Jacqueline Ibragimov, business and art history, Class of 2018

Additional Endowed Grants

Currently, the University of Rochester offers two additional endowed RIG grants. These two RIG grants are given to students who show an impressive aptitude in the sciences.

  • Brian E. Anderson (’06) Innovation Grant
  • Sean P. Anderson PhD (’11) Innovation Grant


A grant is a sum of money awarded to finance a particular activity or project. To receive a grant, an application or proposal is usually required. Generally, grant funds do not need to be paid back.

A Research and Innovation Grant (RIG) is a grant that is funded by the University of Rochester and awarded to a select group of prospective students after they enroll. RIGs allow students to pursue their own academic interests beyond the classroom—learning they design on their own.

Research takes many forms that have nothing to do with lab coats, test tubes, and microscopes. Refer to the website for examples of research and innovation across the curriculum. Scour faculty pages. Check out back issues of the Journal of Undergraduate Research. Or, see current projects in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.